FOR YOUR OWN GOOD - Alice Miller
16 [Pages 220-239 in the print edition]

"In Marienhausen, before the thing with PaPü, I really never felt homesick, but when my parents brought me back to Marienhausen, all of a sudden I got terribly homesick. I was around PaPü a lot, and I couldn't imagine having to stay there. Now I was gone from Marienhausen and couldn't imagine going back there again. On the other hand, I figured, if you go home now you'll get a terrible beating. That's why I was afraid. I couldn't move in either direction.

"Near the grounds there's a big woods, and I went in there. I wandered around there practically all afternoon. Then at dusk, all of a sudden my mother was in the woods. Someone had probably seen me. I saw her from behind a tree. She was calling, 'Jürgen? Jürgen? Where are you?' And so I went with her. Of course she started right in scolding and yelling in a big way.

"My parents telephoned Marienhausen immediately. I didn't tell them anything. They kept telephoning Marienhausen for days. Then they came to me and said: 'Well, they've given you another chance! You're going back again!' Naturally, I yammered and wailed, 'Please, please, I don't want to go back.' But anyone who knew my parents would know it was no use.

Jürgen not only tells about Marienhausen from his own perspective; he describes, for example, the fate of a friend.

"He was a good pal. He had been at Marienhausen much longer than I. He came from Cologne, and he was the shortest one in our class. He didn't let anybody say anything bad about his hometown. I can't count the times he got into a fight because someone had insulted his city. Because there's no such thing as a 'city' but just human beings who mean something to a person, that's probably why he always suffered from homesickness.

"He stayed on there longer than I did, too. Because he really was the shortest one, he could never get out of having to stand in the front row at choir, and that way practically every time we rehearsed he got his share of blows in the stomach and in the face. God, more than his share because the last row was relatively protected. I can't begin to say how often he got kicked and hit. This isn't supposed to be some kind of hero worship--he would never forgive us for that. For he wasn't a hero and didn't want to be one. If PaPü or the fat Catechist had him in their clutches, then he screamed bloody murder, bellowing out his pain so you would think those hated holy walls would come tumbling down.

"One summer evening in 1960 while we were camping out in Rath near Niedeggen, Pater Pülitz had him 'kidnapped.' It was meant to be a game, a lot of fun. But Herbert didn't know that because nobody told him. He was dragged off deep into the woods at evening, tied up and gagged, stuck into a white sleeping bag, and left lying there. He was there till midnight. Fear, entreaties, despair, loneliness--it's futile, I can't say what he felt. After midnight they razzed him, taunts and jeers, a game, a lot of fun.

"A few years later he left Marienhausen, but when he was still a boy, he plunged to his death in the mountains. He was born to be beaten and tormented and then to die. He was the shortest boy in our class. His name was Herbert Grewe. And he was a good pal."

Marienhausen is only one example of many such places.

"In early 1970 the press and radio reported a scandal of sorts connected with the Don Bosco Home in Cologne. The conditions that no one got excited about in Marienhausen now moved the Welfare Office in Cologne to remove all its children from the Don Bosco Home in Cologne because they claimed they could no longer be responsible for leaving their children in such a place. The teachers were supposed to have knocked children down the stairs, trampled on them, put their heads into the toilet, etc., the same fun they had with us in Marienhausen. Exactly the same, and this was even a Don Bosco Home, run by the good Salesian Fathers. The reports also said that four teachers had repeatedly assaulted their charges. Sometime after 1960 Pater Pülitz taught in this same Home in Cologne for several years."

Even in the hell of his school, Jürgen also experienced something positive for which he is thankful: for the first time he was not the only scapegoat the way he had been at home and in his local school. Here there was a feeling of solidarity "against the sadistic teachers."

"The good part meant so much to me that I might even have been willing to put up with much worse. The main thing was to have the wonderful experience of for once not being excluded. There was a rare solidarity among all the boys against the sadistic teachers. I once read an Arabian proverb: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. You ought to have seen it, the tremendous feeling of solidarity, the way we stuck together. Memory is supposed to exaggerate some things, but I really don't think I'm doing that. For once I wasn't an outsider. We would all rather have been beaten to shreds than betray a pal. That was simply unthinkable."

Psychiatry went along with the persecution of Bartsch's "evil drives." On the basis of the argument that he could not control his "excessive sex drive," and in the hope of helping him, the medical authorities prescribed castration, to which he agreed.* This idea borders on the grotesque when we consider that Jürgen was already toilet trained at eleven months. He must have been an especially gifted child to have accomplished this so early, especially in a hospital where there was not a regular care giver. Jürgen proved by this that he was capable of "controlling his drives" to a very great degree. But that was his undoing. If he had not controlled himself so well and for such a long time, then his foster parents might not have adopted him at all or might have given him to someone else who had more understanding for him.
* Mysteriously, he died while the surgery was being performed--perhaps his unconscious answer to the authorities' total misunderstanding of his true personality.

Jürgen's gifts helped him primarily to adapt to his situation in order to survive: to suffer everything in silence, not to rebel against being locked up in the cellar, and even to do well in school. But the eruption of feelings in puberty proved too much for his defense mechanisms. (We can observe something similar in the drug scene.) It would be tempting to say "fortunately," if the consequences of this eruption had not led to a continuation of the tragedy.

"Naturally, I often said to my mother, 'Just wait till I'm twentyone!' That much I dared to say. Then of course my mother would say: 'Yes, yes, I can just imagine. In the first place you're too stupid to get by anywhere except with us. And then, if you really did go out into the world, you'd see, after two days you'd be back here again.' The minute she said it, I knew it was true. I wouldn't have trusted myself to get by alone out there for more than two days. Why I don't know. And I knew for sure that when I turned twenty-one I would not go away. That was crystal clear to me, but I had to let off a little steam once in a while. But to think that I might have had any really serious intentions about it is completely absurd. I never would have done it.

"When I started my job I didn't say, 'I like it'; I didn't say, 'It's horrible' either. I didn't actually think that much about it."

Thus, any hope for a life of his own was nipped in the bud. How else can this be described but as soul murder? So far, criminology has never concerned itself with this kind of murder, has never even been able to acknowledge it, because as a part of child-rearing it is perfectly legal. Only the last link in a long chain of actions is punishable by the court. Often this link reveals in minute detail the crime's entire sorrowful prehistory without the perpetrator being aware of it.

The exact descriptions of his "deeds" that Bartsch gives Paul Moor show how little these crimes actually had to do with the "sex drive," although Bartsch was convinced of the opposite and eventually decided for this reason to have himself castrated. From Bartsch's letters, the analyst can learn something about the narcissistic origins of a sexual perversion, something that has not yet been adequately treated in the professional literature.

Bartsch didn't actually understand this himself and wonders repeatedly why his sex drive was separate from what he did. There were boys his age whom he was attracted to, whom he loved, and whom he would have liked to have as close friends, but he distinctly separated all that from what he did to the little boys. He hardly even masturbated in front of them, he writes. He was acting out here the deep humiliation, intimidation, destruction of dignity, loss of power, and torment of the little boy in lederhosen he had once been. It particularly excited him to look into his victim's frightened, submissive, helpless eyes, in which he saw himself reflected. With great excitement he repeatedly went through the motions of destroying his self in his victims--now he is no longer the helpless victim but the mighty persecutor!

Since Paul Moor's shattering book is out of print, I shall quote here some longer passages from Bartsch's descriptions of his deeds. His first attempts were with Axel, a boy in the neighborhood:

"Then, a few weeks later, it was exactly the same. 'Come to the woods with me,' I said, and Axel replied, 'No, then you'll start acting crazy again!' But I took him with me anyway because I promised not to do anything to him. But then I did act crazy again. Again I stripped the boy naked by force, and then sudden as a flash I had a devilish idea. I yelled at him again: 'Just the way you are now, lie down on my lap, with your behind facing up! It's all right to kick your legs if it hurts, but your arms and everything else must stay perfectly still! Now I'm going to hit your behind thirteen times, and each time harder than the last! If you don't want to go along with it, I'll kill you! 'Killing' was still an empty threat then, at least that's what I believed myself. 'Do you want to?'

"He wanted to -- what choice did he have? After he had lain down on my lap with his behind facing up, I did exactly as I had said. I kept on hitting him, harder and harder, and the boy kicked his legs like mad but otherwise didn't resist. I didn't stop at thirteen but only when my hand hurt so much that I couldn't go on hitting him anymore.

"Afterwards the same thing: I calmed down completely and felt incredibly humiliated for myself and for someone I liked so much, abject misery personified, so to speak. Axel didn't cry and afterwards he wasn't even overly upset. He was only very, very quiet for a long time.

"I offered to let him hit me. He could have beaten me to death, I wouldn't have tried to stop him, but he didn't want to. In the end I was the one who bawled. 'Now you're sure not to want to have anything more to do with me,' I said to him on the way home. No answer.

"The next afternoon he came to my door again after all, but somehow more quietly, more cautiously than before. 'Please--no more,' was all he said. You won't believe it, I didn't believe it myself at first, but he didn't even bear me a grudge! For some time after that, we often played together, until he moved away, but as far as I can tell, this incident I've just told you about made me so afraid of myself that I had some peace for a while. 'A short while,' as it says in the Bible."

"All I can say about the worst things is that from a certain age (around thirteen or fourteen) I always had the feeling of no longer having any control over what I was doing, of really not being able to help it. I prayed, and I hoped at least that would do some good, but it didn't.

"They were all so little, much littler than I. They were all so afraid that they didn't resist at all."

"Until 1962 it was only a matter of undressing them and feeling them and like that. Later, when killing became part of it, I started cutting them up pretty much right away. At first I always thought of razor blades, but then after the first time I started thinking of knives, our knives."

It is important to note what Jürgen says in passing:

"If I love a certain person, the way a boy would love a girl, then he doesn't correspond at all to my ideal of a victim. It's not as though I would have to make an effort to hold myself back somehow, that's ridiculous. In a case like that, the drive simply disappeared automatically."

It was an entirely different matter with the little boys:

"At the crucial moment I would have liked it if the boy had offered some resistance, even though the children's helplessness generally excited me. But I was honestly convinced that the boy wouldn't have had a chance against me.

"I tried kissing Frese, but that didn't belong to any plan. That somehow emerged from the situation. I don't know why, from one moment to the next the desire was there. I thought doing that between times would be terrific. That was something new for me. Victor and Detlef I hadn't ever kissed. If I said today that he wanted to be kissed, everyone would say, 'You pig, who do you expect to believe that?'--but it was actually true. In my opinion, it can be explained only by the fact that I had beaten him so terribly before that. If I try putting myself in his place, I can imagine that the only thing he cared about was which was worse, which hurt more. I mean, being kissed by somebody I detest is still preferable to having that person kick me in the balls from behind. In that sense it's understandable. But at the time I was pretty amazed. He said, 'More! More!' So finally I kept on. That must be it, that the only thing he cared about was which was easier to bear."

It is striking that Bartsch, who describes what he did to his victims so openly and in such detail--even though he knows what revulsion this will arouse in others--is very reluctant to divulge his memories of when he was the helpless victim. He has to force himself to tell these things, which he does in a terse and imprecise way. At the age of eight he was seduced by his thirteen-year-old cousin, and later, at thirteen, by his teacher. Here we can observe the pronounced discrepancy between subjective and social reality. Within the framework of a little boy's value system, Bartsch sees himself in the murder scenes as a powerful person with a strong feeling of self-confidence, although he knows everyone will condemn him for these actions and attitudes. In the other scenes, however, the warded-off pain of the humiliated victim comes to the surface and causes him unbearable feelings of shame. This is one of the reasons why so many people either can't remember being beaten as children at all or only remember it without the appropriate feelings, i.e., quite indifferently and "coolly."

I am not telling the story of Jürgen Bartsch's childhood in his own words in order to "exonerate" him, something which the legal profession accuses psychotherapists of doing, or to place the blame on his parents, but to show that every one of his actions had a meaning that can be discovered only if we free ourselves from the compulsion to overlook the context. I was appalled by the newspaper accounts about Jürgen Bartsch, to be sure, but I was not morally outraged, because I know that acts similar to Bartsch's often appear in patients' fantasies when they are able to bring to consciousness the repressed desire for revenge stemming from their early childhood (cf. page 202). But for the very reason that they are able to talk about and confide these feelings of hatred, rage, and desire for revenge to another person, they do not need to translate their fantasies into deeds. Jürgen had not had the slightest opportunity to articulate his feelings. In his first year of life he did not have a regular care giver, then he was not allowed to play with other children until the time he started school, nor did his parents ever play with him. In school he soon became a scapegoat for the other boys; it is understandable that such an isolated child, who is beaten into obedience at home, could not hold his own in the company of his peers. He had terrible fears, and this caused the other children to persecute him even more. The scene after he ran away from Marienhausen shows the boundless loneliness of this adolescent caught between his "sheltered," middle-class home and the Catholic boarding school. The need to tell his parents everything and the certainty that they would not believe him; his fear of going back home but also his longing to cry his heart out there--isn't this the situation of thousands of adolescents?

In the Catholic school, Jürgen, the well-behaved child of his parents, obeyed all the rules. For this reason he reacted with astonishment and anger when a former schoolmate testified at the trial that Jürgen had "of course" slept with another boy. It was possible, then, to get around the rules, but not for children who had been forced from infancy to learn obedience under threat to their life. Such children are grateful to be allowed to serve as altar boys and at least in this way to be closer to the priest, to some other living being.

The combination of violence and sexual arousal that the very small child whose parents treat him as their property is frequently exposed to often finds later expression in perversions and delinquent behavior. Likewise, in the murders committed by Bartsch many features of his childhood are reflected with horrifying exactitude:

  1. The underground hiding place where he murdered the children is reminiscent of the cellar, with its barred windows and walls ten feet high, that Bartsch describes as the place where he was locked up.
  2. Bartsch selected his victims carefully. He walked through arcades for hours looking for the right boy. His parents had also selected him, before adopting him.
  3. Later (not all at once--like his victims--but slowly) he was prevented from living.
  4. He sliced the children up with a butcher knife, "with our knife," as he writes. The daily beatings his parents gave him and the sight of the animal carcasses they had butchered combined in Jürgen's imagination to produce an ominous feeling that hung over his life like a sword of Damocles. By finally taking a butcher knife into his hands himself, he tried actively to avert his own destruction.
  5. He was aroused when he looked into the children's terrified and helpless eyes. In their eyes he saw himself, along with the feelings he had had to suppress. At the same time he experienced himself in the role of the seductive, aroused adult at whose mercy he once had been.
  6. The close connection between kisses and beatings was something Bartsch knew from his mother's way of treating him.

Bartsch's murderous acts demonstrate several mechanisms:

  1. The desperate attempt to satisfy his forbidden drives in secret against tremendous odds.
  2. The discharge of his bottled-up hatred, unacceptable to society, for his parents and teachers, who forbade him to express his spontaneous feelings and were interested only in his "behavior."
  3. The acting out of the situation of being at the mercy of his parents' and teachers' violent behavior, which was now projected onto the little boys in lederhosen (which Jürgen had also worn as a child).
  4. The compulsive provocation of society's revulsion and disgust, the same feelings his mother had had when Jürgen went back to wetting and soiling his diapers when he was a year old.

The repetition compulsion is an attempt (the same is true of many perversions) to win the attention of the mother of one's early years. Bartsch's "acts" give the public cause for (justifiable) horror, just as, for example, Christiane's provocative behavior, which was actually an attempt to manipulate her unpredictable father (cf. page 112), caused the building superintendents, her teachers, and the police real difficulties and unpleasantness.

Those who want to believe that a "pathological sex drive" is the sole motive for murdering children will find many acts of violence in our day incomprehensible and will be unable to deal with them. In this connection, I would like to give a brief description of a case in which sexuality plays no special role but which clearly and tragically reflects the history of the perpetrator's childhood.

The July 27, 1979, issue of Die Zeit contains an article by Paul Moor about eleven-year-old Mary Bell, who was put away for life by an English court in 1968 on two counts of murder. She was twenty-two when the article appeared, was still in prison, and had received no psychotherapeutic treatment to date.

I quote from the article:

Two little boys, three and four years old, have been murdered. The clerk of the court in Newcastle asks the accused to rise. The girl replies that she is already standing. Mary Bell, accused of murder on two counts, is all of eleven years old.

On May 26, 1957, seventeen-year-old Betty McC. gave birth to Mary in Dilston Hall Hospital, Corbridge, Gateshead. "Get that thing away from me," Betty is said to have cried, and she recoiled when the baby was put in her arms a few minutes after birth. When Mary was three years old, her mother Betty took her for a walk one day--secretly followed by Betty's curious sister. Betty was taking Mary to an adoption agency. A woman came out of the interview room in tears and said they didn't want to let her have a baby because she was too young and was emigrating to Australia. Betty said to her: "I'm putting this one up for adoption. Take her." Then Betty pushed little Mary toward the stranger and left.... In school Mary was a troublemaker: for years she hit, kicked, and scratched other children. She would wring the necks of pigeons, and once she pushed her little cousin from the top of an air-raid shelter onto the concrete eight feet below. The following day she tried to choke three little girls on a playground. At the age of nine she started at a new school; two of her teachers there later stated: "It's better not to delve too deeply into her life and circumstances." Later a policewoman who got to know Mary during her pretrial custody gave the following account: "She was bored. She was standing by the window watching a cat climb up the drainpipe and asked if she might bring it inside.... We opened the window, and she lifted the cat in and began playing with it on the floor with a piece of yarn.... Then I looked up and at first noticed that she was holding the cat by the scruff of the neck. Then I realized that she was holding the cat so tightly that the animal couldn't breathe and its tongue was hanging out. I ran over and pulled her hands away. I said, 'You mustn't do that, you're hurting it.' She answered, 'Oh, it doesn't feel anything, and anyway I like to hurt little things that can't defend themselves."'

Mary told another policewoman that she would like to be a nurse-- "because then I could stick needles into people. I like to hurt people." Mary's mother Betty eventually married Billy Bell, but on the side she cultivated a rather special clientele. After Mary's trial Betty enlightened a police officer concerning her "specialty"; "I whip them," she said in a tone of voice that indicated to the listener her surprise that he didn't already know this. "But I always kept the whips hidden from the children."

Mary Bell's behavior leaves no room whatsoever for doubt that her mother--who gave birth to her at the age of seventeen and then rejected her, who made whipping people her profession--tormented, threatened, and probably tried to kill her own child in the same way that Mary dealt with the cat and the two little children.* There is no law, however, that would have prohibited her mother's behavior.
* After this book appeared in German, I learned that Mary's mother, who as a child was schizophrenic, tried not only once but four times to kill her daughter. See Gitta Sereny, The Case of Mary Bell (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972).

Psychotherapeutic treatment is not inexpensive and is often criticized on these grounds. But is it less expensive to lock up an eleven-year-old child for the rest of her life? And what good will that do? A child who has been mistreated at such an early age must be able to tell in some way or other about the wrong that has been done her, about the murder perpetrated on her. If she has no one, she will not find the language for it and can tell it only by doing what was done to her. This awakens our horror. But the horror should be directed at the first murder, which was committed in secret and has gone unpunished. Then we might be able to help the child to experience her story on a conscious level so that she will no longer have to tell it by means of disastrous enactments.*
* * I later learned that Mary Bell, who had become "an attractive woman" in the meantime, was released from prison and had "expressed the wish to live near her mother."

The Walls of Silence

I have presented the story of Jürgen Bartsch in order to show by means of a concrete example how the way a murder is committed can provide clues for understanding the soul murder that occurred in childhood. The earlier this soul murder took place, the more difficult it will be for the affected person to grasp and the less it can be validated by memories and words. If he wants to communicate, his only recourse is acting out. For this reason, if I want to understand the underlying roots of delinquent behavior, I must direct my attention to the child's earliest experiences. Despite my attentiveness, after having written this chapter, when I checked over the passages in the Moor book that I had underlined, I found that I had overlooked the passage that was most important of all for me. It was the passage about Jürgen being beaten as an infant.

The fact that I had passed over this passage, which is of such great importance in corroborating my thesis, showed me how difficult it is for us to imagine an infant being beaten by his or her mother, how difficult not to ward off the image of it but to let the full implication sink in on an emotional level. This explains why psychoanalysts are also so little concerned with these facts and why the consequences of this sort of childhood experience have scarcely been investigated.

It would be a misunderstanding and distortion of my intentions for the reader to think on the basis of this chapter that I am assigning guilt to Frau Bartsch. My very point is to refrain from moralizing and only show cause and effect; namely, that those children who are beaten will in turn give beatings, those who are intimidated will be intimidating, those who are humiliated will impose humiliation, and those whose souls are murdered will murder. As far as morality is concerned, one would have to say that no mother beats her infant without cause. Since we know nothing about Frau Bartsch's childhood, these causes remain obscure. But there can be no doubt that they exist, just as they do in Adolf Hitler's case. Condemning a mother for beating her infant and then pushing the whole matter aside is of course easier than accepting the truth, but it is evidence of a very dubious morality. For our moral indignation isolates even more those parents who mistreat their infants, and adds to the distress that brings them to these acts of violence. Such parents have a compulsion to use their child as an outlet, for the very reason that they are unable to understand this very real distress.

To view all this as tragic is no reason to stand idly by while parents beat their children to shreds, body and soul. It should be a matter of course to take away from such parents the right to raise their children, and to offer these parents psychotherapeutic treatment.

The idea of writing about Jürgen Bartsch did not originate with me. A German reader of my first book wrote me a letter, which I quote here with her permission:

Books do not help to break open the prisons, it is true, but there are books that give us courage to rattle at the prison gates with new courage. Your book is such a one for me.

At one point in your book you speak of corporal punishment for children and state that you cannot speak for Germany because you are not familiar with the situation there.* I should like to reassure you and confirm your worst suspicions. Do you believe the concentration camps of the Nazi period would have been possible had not the use of physical terrorization in the form of beatings with canes, rug beaters, switches, and cat-o'-nine-tails been the rule in raising German children? I myself am now thirty-seven, the mother of three children, and am still trying with varying success to overcome the devastating emotional consequences of that kind of parental strictness, if for no other reason than that my own children can grow up more freely.
* She misinterpreted my meaning here.

In a "heroic struggle" lasting nearly four years now, I still have not succeeded in getting rid of--or at least humanizing--the aggressive, punitive father within me. If there should be a new edition of your book, then I believe you may safely put Germany in first place as far as child abuse goes. More children are dying on our streets as a result of it than in any other European country, and the legacy of child-rearing methods that is being handed down from one generation to the next lies behind a thick wall of silence and resistance. And those whose inner anguish has forced them, with the help of analysis, to look behind the wall will remain silent, for they know no one will believe them when they report what they have seen there. So that you don't get the wrong idea, let me say that I was not given my whippings in the setting of a lower-class housing development but in the well-off, "harmonious" setting of an upper-middle-class family. My father is a minister.

The writer of this letter called my attention to the book by Paul Moor, and thus I owe to her my work involving the life of Jürgen Bartsch, from which I have learned much, including something about my own resistance. I knew of the Bartsch trial at the time but had not familiarized myself with the story. It was the letter from my reader that set me on a path I had no choice but to follow to the end.

On this path I also learned how false the assumption is that children in Germany are more widely abused than in other countries. Sometimes it is very difficult for us to bear an overly painful truth, and therefore we ward it off with the aid of illusions. A frequent form of resistance is that of temporal and spatial displacement. Thus, for example, it is easier for us to imagine that children were mistreated in previous centuries or are so in distant countries than to recognize the truth about our own country, here and now. Then there is another illusion: when a person like the reader just quoted makes the courageous decision not to close her eyes to her history any longer but to face it squarely for the sake of her children, she would like at least to retain the belief that the situation is not so upsetting everywhere, that things are better, more humane in other countries--or were so in other times--than they are in her immediate surroundings. We could scarcely go on living without some hope, and it may be that hope presupposes a certain amount of illusion. Trusting that my readers will be able to hold on to the illusions they need, I should like to present some information pertaining to the childrearing ideology still tolerated and defended with silence in Switzerland (not only Germany) today. The following examples are taken from the extensive file of the telephone "distress line" in the town of Aefligen, Canton Bern, in Switzerland; they were sent to over two hundred newspapers, only two of which ever devoted an article to the facts described here.*
* I later learned that three magazines for parents also decided to publish this documentation.

2/5 Aargau. 7-year-old boy is severely mistreated by his father (beaten with fists, whipped, locked up, etc.). According to the mother, she is also beaten. Reason: alcohol and financial straits.

St. Gallen. 12-year-old girl can't stand it at home any longer; her parents whip her with a leather strap every time something goes wrong. Aargau. 12-year-old girl's father hits her with his fists and gives her a thrashing with his belt. Reason: she is not allowed to have any friends, because the father wants his daughter all to himself. 2/7 Bern. 7-year-old girl has run away from home. Reason: her mother always punishes her by beating her with a rug beater. According to the mother, it is all right to beat children until they are of school age, because until then it doesn't hurt them emotionally. 2/8 Zurich. 15-year-old girl is very strictly raised by her parents. As punishment, her hair is pulled or both earlobes are twisted at the same time. Her parents are of the opinion that the daughter must be held in close rein because life is harsh, and a child must be made aware of this when still a child, otherwise she will be soft in later life. 2/14 Lucerne. Father lays his 14-year-old son on his back over his knee and bends him until his back cracks ("like a banana"). The doctor's certificate indicates a displaced vertebra. Reason for the mistreatment: son stole a pocketknife in a supermarket.

2/15 Thurgau. 10-year-old girl is in despair because, as a punishment, her father killed her hamster before her eyes and cut it to pieces.

2/16 Solothurn. 14-year-old boy is unconditionally forbidden to masturbate. His mother threatens to cut off his penis if he does it again. According to his mother, everyone who does that ends up in hell. Ever since she discovered her husband doing it, she is leaving no stone unturned to combat this shameful act.

Graubünden. Father strikes his 15-year-old daughter on the head with all his might. The girl loses consciousness. The doctor's certificate indicates a fractured skull. Reason for the mistreatment: daughter came home half an hour late.

2/17 Aargau. 14-year-old boy is terribly unhappy because he doesn't have anyone he can talk to. He says it's actually his own fault, because he's afraid of other people, especially girls.

2/18 Aargau. 13-year-old boy is forced to perform sexual acts with his uncle. The boy wants to commit suicide, not so much because of the acts themselves as because now he is afraid he is homosexual. He doesn't dare say anything to his parents for fear of being beaten.

Canton of Basel. 13-year-old girl was beaten by her boyfriend (age 18) and forced to have intercourse. Because the girl is very frightened of her parents, she means to keep this all to herself.

Basel. 7-year-old boy is very frightened. He says his anxiety comes over him around noon and lasts until late afternoon. The mother doesn't want to take her son to a psychologist; she says in the first place she doesn't have any money, and anyway, he's not crazy. She does have her doubts, however, because twice he has been about to jump out of the window.

2/20 Aargau. Father beats his daughter and threatens to poke her eyes out if she keeps on going with her boyfriend. Reason: the two of them disappeared for two days.

2/21 Zurich. Father hangs his 11-year-old son from the wall by his legs for 4 hours. Afterwards, he puts him into a cold bath. Reason: he stole something in a supermarket.

2/27 Bern. Teacher repeatedly sets an example by boxing his pupils on the ear, following which the child in question has to turn somersaults without interruption until he or she collapses.

2/29 Zurich. 15-year-old girl has been beaten by her mother for 6 years (with a broom, cooking utensils, electric cord). She is desperate and wants to get away from her mother.

In the two years that the distress line has existed, the following methods of physical mistreatment have been reported by the people who take the calls.

Beatings. Box on the ear: Repeated hard blows on the ear with the hand, the fist, the flexed thumb. Sandwich box on the ear : Here both hands, fists, or flexed thumbs are used simultaneously. Hand: Alternating strong body blows with the hands. Fist: Hitting the body alternately with both fists. Double fist: Pummeling the body with both hands closed into fists. Elbows: Striking the body hard with the elbows. Arms: Pummeling the body alternately with the arms and the elbows. Head blows: Hitting or a glancing blow, hitting or scraping with the wedding ring. Rapping the hands: Not only teachers but parents as well still use the ruler today. Plastic rulers are especially practical. The hand can be struck on the palm, on the balls of the hand, on the backs of the hand, on the fingers (the fingers must be held up in a closed position). More unusual: rapping with the edge of the ruler.

Electricity. Some children have experienced the "burning whip from the electrical socket": by brief exposure to the current or by having the doorknob on the door to the child's room electrified.

Flesh wounds. Blows that cause wounds: with the bare hand (scratched by fingernails), with fists (cut by a ring), with fork, knife, edge of the knife, spoon, with electrical cord, with a guitar string (used as a whip). Wounds from being pierced: with needles, knitting needles, scissors.

Fractures. Broken bones result from children being hurled across the room, pushed over backwards, thrown out of windows, pushed down the stairs, thrown up the stairs, having car doors slammed on them, being kicked in the chest (broken ribs), trampled on, hit on the head with a fist (skull fracture), and hit with the edge of the hand.

Burns from lighted cigarettes or cigars extinguished on the body, a burning match extinguished on the body, soldering irons used on the body, being doused with hot water, being exposed to electrical currents, being burned with a cigarette lighter.

Choking with the bare hands, electrical cord, car windows (closing the window while the child's head is sticking out).

Contusions. Caused by hitting, slamming of car doors (with injuries to children's fingers, arms, legs, and head), kicking, punching.

Hairpulling. By the handful from head, nape of neck, from the side of the face, the chest, the beard (adolescents).

Hanging. Children have reported that their father punished them by hanging them from the wall by their legs and leaving them there for hours.

Twisting one ear, twisting both ears at the same time, twisting arms behind the back and pushing them up.

"Massaging" with the knuckles : temples, collarbone, shins, breastbone, under the ears, above the neck.

Bending: The child is laid on his back over the father's knee and bent "like a banana."

Bloodletting (rare). A 10-year-old's vein on the inner side of the elbow was punctured and blood drawn until the child could no longer stay awake. After child lost consciousness, its sins were forgiven.

Exposure to cold (rare). Children are exposed to extremely cold temperatures or placed in cold water. Thawing out causes pain.

Immersion. Children who splash in the bathtub are held under water.

Deprivation of sleep (rare). An 11-year-old girl was punished by not being allowed to sleep through the night twice in a row. Every three hours she was awakened or put in cold water while asleep. Sleep deprivation is also used to punish bedwetters. An automatic device placed in the bed awakens the child every time it wets. One boy, for example, was unable to sleep through the night for three years. His nervousness was "taken care of" with medication. His schoolwork suffered. Then his mother gave him the pills only sporadically. As a result, the child became increasingly disturbed in his social behavior: again, grounds for corporal punishment.

Compulsory labor. A method that tends to be used in rural areas. As punishment the child must work all night, clean out the cellar until a state of exhaustion has been reached, or work after school for a week or for a month until eleven o'clock at night and starting at five in the morning (including Sunday).

Eating. The child is forced to eat what it has vomited. After the meal, a finger is stuck down the child's throat to make it vomit. Then the child must eat what it has vomited.

Injections. A salt solution is injected into the child's buttocks, arms, or thighs (rare). A dentist has been known to use this method.

Needles. Children have reported repeatedly that their parents take pins along when they go shopping. When the children want to take something from the shelf, the parents, ostensibly giving them a loving pat on the head, jab them in the neck.

Pills. To solve the problem of children having trouble falling asleep, parents give them large doses of sleeping pills and suppositories. One 13-year-old felt groggy every morning and had difficulty learning.

Alcohol. Beer, liquor, or liqueur is poured into the glasses of toddlers. Then they fall asleep more easily and don't disturb the neighbors with their crying.

Head ramming. One boy reported that his father put his head close to the son's head, then rammed his head with a short, quick blow against the son's. The father boasted about his technique, which had to be practiced so the father wouldn't feel pain himself.

Letting things drop. Letting things drop can be made to look like an accident. The child is asked to help carry something heavy. The adult suddenly lets go and the child's fingers, hand, or foot are injured when the weight falls on it.

Torture chamber. One child and his grandmother reported that the father set up a torture chamber in an unused coal cellar. He bound the child to a "trestle" and whipped him. The whip was selected to match the severity of the punishment. Frequently, the child was left bound overnight.

Why did almost all the journals to whom these devastating reports were sent--journals whose main concern is with "society"--choose to respond with silence? Who is protecting whom and from what? Why shouldn't the Swiss public be informed that in its fair land countless children are being subjected to a lonely martyrdom? What is achieved by silence? Might it not even be helpful for the abusive parents to learn that the anguish of the battered child, who they themselves once were too, is finally being noticed and taken seriously? Like the murders committed by Jürgen Bartsch, numerous crimes against children are an unconscious message to the public about the perpetrators' own past, of which they are often scarcely conscious themselves. Someone who was not allowed to "be aware" of what was being done has no way of telling about it except to repeat it. One would think that the media, who claim to do their best to improve society, could learn to understand this language once they are no longer forbidden to be aware of it.

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